US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Tuesday that he expects the Trump administration to close its embassy to all foreign nationals and to deport anyone who returns from the country.
The US is expected to announce its plan to end the embassy by the end of the year, but the exact date has not been set.
It is the first official announcement of the administration’s plans to close the embassy, which has served as a symbol of the US-China relationship for more than a century.
On Tuesday, Kerry said he hopes the announcement is “quick and easy” and “will not take a long time.”
“There will be a great deal of discussion and deliberation,” he said.
“But as soon as we know the final decision, then we will announce that.”
The announcement was made in a press conference with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, as the two leaders discussed ways to resolve the crisis.
Kerry said that the US will continue to support China in its efforts to build a strong bilateral relationship, and that he hopes that it will take “some time.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The announcement came as the White House worked to find ways to avoid the fallout from the embassy closure.
On Tuesday, the administration announced that it was extending a temporary suspension of the visas of about 2,000 Chinese citizens who were previously allowed to enter the United States, citing a “tremendous increase in visa fraud.”
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the visa waiver program for several months, as Chinese officials vowed to take a tougher line against fraudsters and their agents.
The order temporarily suspends the visas for foreigners with “irregular travel or business” in China.
Trump also said he is “open to extending the visa program” for the remainder of this year and the remainder the year after that.
“The White House is committed to keeping the doors of the United State open to all who wish to visit and work in our country,” a White House official told CNN.
Trump also announced that he is ending a program called the Visa Waiver Program, which grants visas to people from a handful of countries to attend school in the United, as well as spouses, children, and parents of US citizens who have been approved to work in the US.
The visa program was established in 1997 to ease the economic burden of China’s immigration laws.
The White the Trump Administration said the program is designed to provide “the flexibility” to allow people from other countries to work for US businesses, and to give “an incentive to US companies to hire US workers.”
“We know that many companies have stopped applying for these visas because of fraud, because of their own poor enforcement or because they are unwilling to make an investment in hiring Americans,” the White house said.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said the administration is “reviewing the implementation of the visa waivers program, which was a top priority for the Trump campaign and will continue working with Congress to ensure this important program remains an effective tool for our economy.”